Tomato Varieties I Like To Grow

Ilona Erwin

As you may know I have grown tomatoes most of my six decades of life, and this was the first thing I grew on my own in my first garden.

I love homegrown tomatoes.

Over the years, I have developed some decided favoritism, but before I tell you the names of varieties I love and why I like them so well, there are a few things to be said.

Varieties that do well in specific conditions are not a universal “best tomato plant”, and even something like how a tomato tastes is dependent on the reviewer’s personal likes. For instance, I don’t like yellow tomato varieties, but my mother absolutely loved ‘Lemon Boy’ and we both gardened in Ohio.

If you have dry soil or clay or wet clime… all these factors mean that a variety that does well under your own conditions is the one that is probably going to do best for you.

Does This Mean There Are No “Best Tomatoes”?

Not at all. But there are lots of choices within the “best” categories.
Gardeners in the South or in hot regions ought to consider planting heat-tolerant tomato varieties. Also those humid areas are a breeding ground for early blight and Septoria leaf spot.

In Ohio, we have problems with those in wet years, but even in normal years we could experience anthracnose, early blight, Fusarium wilt, late blight, Septoria leaf spot, Verticillium Wilt, or nematodes.

There are types best for humid conditions (that is true of Ohio).

One tip to prevent nemotodes is to plant a marigold called Tagetes patula.

Let’s start with Hybrid vs Heirloom.

Tomato seedlingsI had the idea in recent years that “heirloom” or heritage types were -hands down- the best. Best flavor, best produce, best plants.

The year that I jumped on the bandwagon and planted a large number of tomatoes, all heirloom varieties, was the year that I…. and many other gardeners… suffered with wilt and total loss of our plants.

Since then I switched back to at least a part of my crop consisting of VFN hybrids.

VFN stands for

V = Verticillium Wilt
F = Fusarium Wilt
N = Nematodes

There are other problems that can torment your tomatoes, but those are the big 3.

Hybrids are often bred to resist attack. While there are practices you should follow, I did not have problems in all the years I rotated hybrid varieties.

Hybrids I Like Best

Early Girl

Because it produces early fruits, of course ( a boon in a cold climate with a less than stellar length of season. But I love the flavor and meaty insides of this medium sized round fruit. It is resistant to F1 and F2, and V. It grows very well for me in Central Ohio on neutral clay loam ground.

The one pictured on my kitchen counter above was a ripe Early Girl from last years garden.

Better Boy

I used to grow Big Boy in the 70’s, but for the last decade or so I grow ‘Better Boy’. They are large, and have that tangy, meaty taste that I like for slicing and eating fresh. I don’t like lots of gel or a bland flavor. Better Boy is F1,GLS, N, RKN, V, and Crack resistant. It is a big plant, too. it has always done very well for me, but takes longer to come into production.

However, I can get fruits right up until frosts and they keep nicely on the windowsill or in the basement stored on newspaper, if showing even a little yellow or red.

I have tried others, of course, but these two I buy and grow every year and I love them. Good for Southern gardens, too.

Heirlooms

After trying a large number (often adding in new types each year), I now have a short list of the ones that work well in my garden and on my table.

Amish Paste

This is the one I like for cooking. Roma is good, but this one is better for me. Easy to grow and comes true from seed whether I plant it or not (sprouts in my garden, which means additional tomatoes). Ox-heart shape.

Pink Brandywine Or Brandywine

I love the Brandywines. They are big, delicious, and whether pink or regular  I am thrilled with their fruits. I don’t have disease problems with them in the way I have with other heirlooms.

I am partial to pink tomatoes for some reason, so I will buy the Pink Brandywine plants already started in the Nursery. They are top choice for humid climates like the South, too.

Caspian Pink

I mean it, I love pink tomatoes. They have what is called “creamy flesh”, but I think they just have less gel, more meat, and good flavor. Pink Caspian is a darker pink, big, beefsteak type of tomato. I grow either this one OR the Brandywine. But I would say I might like this one a tad more. It has been less available in my local nurseries than the Brandywine.

Black Krim

I’ve grown other “black” tomatoes, and beefsteak varieties, but this one combines good qualities of both: tastes good, looks pretty (I like the black shading), and stays healthy in the garden.

I haven’t done any scientific comparison and years can prove different for different sorts, but it doesn’t seem to produce as heavily as the other choices here… which to be fair are super abundant for me.
Black Krim Tomato 10 Seeds

  • It has become a “must-have” because of its qualities.
  • A Russian/Ukrainian heirloom.
  • Considered a good choice for a container.

After watching this video I am ready to try “Paul Robeson” black tomato if I can find it, Or I amy look for the seed, since there is still time to “grow my own”.

 

 

To look up a huge number of resistant tomato varieties, check the chart made by Cornell University.Tomato Chart

More Tomato Plant Codes
FF Fusarium, races 1 and 2
FFF Fusarium, races 1, 2, and 3
N Nematodes
A Alternaria
T Tobacco Mosaic Virus
St Stemphylium (Gray Leaf Spot)
TSWV Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

Didn’t Like

I didn’t care for “German Pink” because it fell prey to disease in my garden the year I grew it, The few fruits I got from it did not impress me. It could be different for you.

I rarely plant cherry or small tomatoes. You might like to recommend your favorites – I have comments on the site.

Tomatoes

If you want to grow your tomatoes from seed, see How To Care For Tomato Plants which provides 5 quick tips to start from seed.
All About Tomatoes
Tomato Companions

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.